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Alibaba’s IPO likely to be on US market

The company, headquartered in Hangzhou, could command the largest initial public offering of stock ever.

Associated Press/File 2012

The company, headquartered in Hangzhou, could command the largest initial public offering of stock ever.

NEW YORK —Alibaba Group, China’s online commerce giant, confirmed Sunday that it plans to begin the process of becoming a public company in the United States.

In a post on its corporate blog, the company said it aims to be listed on a US stock market to become “a more global company.”

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The blog post highlights that the company is on its way toward setting up its long-awaited initial public offering, one that could set records as the biggest ever. Among China’s burgeoning contingent of Internet titans, Alibaba is unique — part eBay, part Google, part PayPal.

Its IPO could eventually raise more than the $16 billion Facebook reaped in its public debut nearly two years ago. Analysts speculate that the company could fetch a valuation well north of $130 billion.

The offering is expected to make some of Alibaba’s executives extremely wealthy, including Jack Ma, the former English teacher who founded the company in 1999.

Alibaba’s offering has drawn virtually all of Wall Street, as banks have regularly courted top officials such as Ma and Joseph Tsai, a former American corporate lawyer who now serves as the company’s executive vice chairman.

According to a person briefed on the matter, the company plans to work with at least five major banks on its planned offering: Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley. Citigroup is also expected to play a role, the person added.

The blog post also shows that the company has snubbed its hometown exchange, the Hong Kong stock exchange. The Asian market’s operator has refused to bless Alibaba’s partnership structure, in which a group of insiders will maintain control of the board despite owning a minority of shares overall; the Hong Kong exchange’s rules prohibit dual classes of shares and other arrangements that give shareholders more than one vote per share.

Alibaba said that, at some point, it might be open to a dual listing that includes China.

“We wish to thank those in Hong Kong who have supported Alibaba Group,” the company said. “We respect the viewpoints and policies of Hong Kong and will continue to pay close attention to and support the process of innovation and development of Hong Kong.”

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